Let lady luck decide your next meal for a fraction of the cost.

Capsule machines have long been a feature of the Japanese landscape which can be found just about anywhere. Perhaps more impressive than their widespread presence is the range of goods they offer, from cat bandannas to handwritten love letters.

It would seem everything has come out of these “gachapon” at one point or another, but innovations continue to come in. Case in point is a service area in Hyogo Prefecture that will offer hot meals served via capsules.

Of course, the logistics of stuffing a cooked meal into a plastic ball would be mind-boggling so instead they just place a ticket for one of twenty different meals offered in the service area’s food court.

The concept is that it cuts down on the time and energy used to decide what to eat. Especially in rest areas, people are in such a rush or are exhausted from traveling to the point that they simply don’t want to do any excess thinking, so why not take a roll of the gachapon instead?

However, the real benefit is in the price. Two types of machines are available: Gacha Meshi for 500 yen (US$4.50) and Gacha Meshi Mini for 300 yen. No matter what you get, you’ll be paying less than regular price, but one dish alone – the Tajima Beef Zukushi Set – is worth more than 2,000 yen ($18)!

There is a catch, however. Once you turn the knob, there is no turning back. The service area will not give refunds nor will they swap the order for something else. Either eat what you get or try again. That being said, in the case of medical issues such as allergies, they can make alterations to the foods.

There doesn’t appear to be a full list of items available but from the image of the machine in the press release, some of them can be seen broken up into classes, presumably by price.

B Rank
Various kinds of Udon (or Soba)
Curry Rice

A Rank
Udon (or Soba) Set
Gyusuki Don (Sukiyaki Beef on Rice)
Katsu Don (Pork Cutlet on Rice)
Oyako Don (Chicken and Egg on Rice)

S Rank
Ramen Set
Pork Ramen
Chilled Izushi Soba
Katsu Curry (Pork Cutlet and Curry Rice)
Tajima Beef Udon (or Soba)

SS Rank
Tajima Gyudon (Beef on Rice)
Chilled Izushi Soba with Tajima Beef

Again this is not an official list, just what was printed on the machine in the pictures above. Nevertheless, it doesn’t look like there would be any terribly off-putting foods on there so you can feel safe to give it a whirl.

So, if you happen to be passing through the northern part of Hyogo be sure to swing by the Nishiki Service Area Orisen. Otherwise, you can stick to the gachapon with underpants for plastic bottles and Freemasonry collectibles found in the rest of Japan.

Nishiki Service Area Orisen / 西紀サービスエリア下り線
Hyōgo-ken, Sasayama-shi, Nishikinobe
Open: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (7 p.m. weekends)

Source, images: PRdesse